Accokeek ‘cheapskate’ in running for finance award

An Accokeek man is up against Warren Buffet. So far, he’s ahead.

Jeff Yeager, who writes about frugality, is one of 12 personal finance experts featured in a contest on www.gobankingrates.com, a financial website.

Until Dec. 31, visitors to the site can vote once per day for their favorite from a list that, in addition to Yeager and Buffet, includes Suze Orman, who has a personal finance TV show, Dave Ramsey, a radio personality, and Robert Kiyosaki, creator of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” books and seminars.

In a Wednesday interview, Yeager, who has dubbed himself “the Ultimate Cheapskate,” said he was startled to be selected to compete against the “rock stars of finance.”

“At first I thought it was some sort of scam,” he said.

Yeager has written two books about serious frugality he advocates paying less than a dollar per pound for groceries, and conducted a cross-country book tour by bicycle but didn’t think he had achieved enough attention to be in the top 12, he said.

“I’ve been named one of the top 12 financial gurus of 2011. It was a real surprise to me, not something you enter [to join] or anything. What surprised me most about it was some of the other names on the list … and then there’s me, the Ultimate Cheapskate. I don’t know how they selected me. My books are pretty popular, but I’ll be first to admit I’m the odd man out,” Yeager said.

He speculated that his selection is a “sign of the times,” a signal that the public’s focus is shifting from trying to make more money to conserving what they have.

Jaime Catmull, Gobankingrates.com spokeswoman, suggested something similar in an email.

“Jeff’s advice is something that is becoming more helpful and popular due to the economy, and we wanted to make sure to include him. We love that he is helping people to be happy in a down economy with his money-saving tips,” she wrote.

Yeager’s profile on the site features a photograph of him holding a giant salmon carcass over a pot in his kitchen. Already stripped of its more valuable filets, he bought three carcasses for $5 from a Washington, D.C., fish market, to be boiled for broth, he boasted.

Catmull asked him what set him apart from the other contestants, and his answer was, “I’m the only financial adviser who’s not been through bankruptcy. That’s not accurate, but Dave Ramsey has, and some of the others,” Yeager said.

On Wednesday evening, Yeager was in fourth place, behind financial adviser Ric Edelman and Ramsey, and well behind Kiyosaki, who had captured 61 percent of the vote, more than six times as much as any other candidate. Four thousand, five hundred ninety-two votes had been cast.

But Yeager’s 8 percent following outstrips his national fame, something he attributed to the devotion of his followers.

“I don’t begin to have this kind of fan base that these others have but my people feel very passionate about it. They believe, like me, it’s not just about money. It’s about happiness,” he said.

Among Yeager’s partisans in the poll’s comment section were Carol Wells, an artist from Texas, who wrote, using her Facebook account, that “I voted for Jeff Yeager because he delivers his helpful, practical advice like a wise uncle with a touch of humor. Very refreshing in this age of louder-faster-heavier.”

“I love Jeff Yeager! He is a much realer person to me than the rest of them! He doesn’t have any crazy formulas to follow or anything! I compare his philosophy to dieting! Eat less, move more, and you will lose weight! Jeff- If you don’t need it, don’t buy it!” wrote Jessica Marie Cline of Denver, Colo.

Yeager is urging friends and followers to vote and said hopes Southern Marylanders will “go vote for the cheap ticket” to push him over the top, he said.